The incident took place five days after a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore was forced to land in Bangkok due to severe turbulence, which killed a 73-year-old British man and left 20 others in intensive care. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Doha: Twelve people travelling on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Ireland were injured during a bout of turbulence, Dublin Airport said on Sunday, adding that the plane landed safely and as scheduled.

Flight QR017, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, landed shortly before 1pm Dublin time (1200 GMT), the airport said.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

“Upon landing, the aircraft was met by emergency services, including Airport Police and our Fire and Rescue department, due to 6 passengers and 6 crew [12 total] on board reporting injuries after the aircraft experienced turbulence while airborne over Turkey,” Dublin Airport said in a statement.

Dublin Airport said it was assisting passengers and staff and that operations were unaffected.

Irish broadcaster RTE, citing passengers arriving at Dublin Airport, said the incident lasted less than 20 seconds and occurred during food and drinks service.

In a statement to CNN, Qatar Airways said that the flight landed safely in Dublin, but that “a small number of passengers and crew sustained minor injuries in flight and are now receiving medical attention.”

“The matter is now subject to an internal investigation,” the statement continued. “The safety and security of our passengers and crew are our top priority.”

The incident took place five days after a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore was forced to land in Bangkok due to severe turbulence, which killed a 73-year-old British man and left 20 others in intensive care.

Passengers and crew suffered skull, brain and spine injuries when they were thrown violently around the cabin during the terrifying high-altitude ordeal.

Singapore Airlines have since tightened their seatbelt rules.

Air safety experts say that passengers are often too casual about wearing seatbelts, leaving them at risk if the plane hits unexpected turbulence.

Also read

Turbulence-related airline accidents are the most common type, according to a 2021 study by the US National Transportation Safety Board.

From 2009 through 2018, the US agency found that turbulence accounted for more than a third of reported airline accidents and most resulted in one or more serious injuries, but no aircraft damage.

Climate change link

Scientists also warn that so-called clear air turbulence, which is invisible to radar, is getting worse because of climate change.

Scientists at Reading University in the UK studied clear-air turbulence, which is harder for pilots to avoid. They found that severe turbulence had increased 55 per cent between 1979 and 2020 on a typically busy North Atlantic route.

They put the increase down to changes in wind speed at high altitudes due to warmer air from carbon emissions.

“Following a decade of research showing that climate change will increase clear-air turbulence in the future, we now have evidence suggesting that the increase has already begun,” said Prof Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading who co-authored the study, according to BBC.

“We should be investing in improved turbulence forecasting and detection systems, to prevent the rougher air from translating into bumpier flights in the coming decades.”

Largest increases

Flight routes in the USA and North Atlantic saw the largest increases. Europe, the Middle East, and the South Atlantic also saw significant increases in turbulence.

Prof Williams said the increased turbulence was due to greater wind shear - or differences in wind speed - in the jet stream, a strong wind system blowing from west to east, about five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface. It exists largely due to a difference in temperature between the world’s equator and poles.

While satellites can’t see the turbulence, they can see the structure and the shape of the jet stream, allowing it to be analysed.

Radar can pick up turbulence from storms, but clear-air turbulence is almost invisible and hard to detect.

Turbulent flights are not only uncomfortable, but can also cause injuries for those on the flight. Severe turbulence is very rare, but clear-air turbulence can come out of the blue, when passengers are not belted in.

“Nobody should stop flying because they’re afraid of turbulence, but it is sensible to keep your seat belt fastened all the time, unless you’re moving around, which is what the pilots do,” said Prof Williams. “That is almost a guarantee that you will be safe even in the worst turbulence.”

There are also financial consequences. The aviation industry loses between $150m (£120m) and $500m (£400m) in the US alone annually due to effects of turbulence, including wear-and-tear on aircraft, said the researchers. It also has an environmental cost, as pilots burn up fuel avoiding it.